Summary: Part 1 of an annual series on the condition of the local church and direction for the New Year.
A new year gives us the opportunity look back and reflect upon what has happened. We also can look forward to the New Year with anticipation of what lies before us; goals and resolutions are made. I’ve heard it said that most of our New Years resolutions are broken before January 14th; two weeks and we fall back into our old habits.
Someone has said, “You will become what you are now.” Someone else said, “Show me your friends and I’ll show you your future.”
What are some things that we can do in order to see our dreams for the future become a reality? Here are two things to remember: [1.] continue to do the things now that will take you there and [2.] surround yourself with people who want to go there with you. When you begin to put those two things into practice, then anything is possible!
God has not put our church here to fail. The best days for our church are still ahead of us. God has a wonderful plan for our church, but it won’t become a reality by just an act of God–it is even less likely that anything within the church will happen just by chance.
+ Matthew 16:18 . . . on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. (NIV)
+ This is the rock on which I will put together my church, a church so expansive with energy that not even the gates of hell will be able to keep it out. (The Message)
What can we learn about the church through what Jesus said?
1. The Church is established by Jesus Christ.
Jesus said, “I will build my church.” Don’t miss Jesus’ first word; He said “I.” Jesus is the founder the Church!
None of us can build the church apart from Him! If anyone other than Jesus is the builder, then the Church is not what’s being built. Jesus is the builder of His church.
Look again at what Jesus said: “I WILL BUILD OR PUT TOGETHER my church.” The verb translated will build is literally “house builder.” Jesus will construct or put together the church; the emphasis is upon what Jesus will do. The Roman Catholic church uses this scripture to say Jesus established Peter as the first in a line of “builders of the church”. Jesus emphasis is upon Himself as the builder and cornerstone of the church. JESUS IS THE ROCK UPON WHICH THE CHURCH IS BUILT.
Jesus began the building of the church in the book of Acts. However, its construction did not conclude there. Jesus continues the building of His Church today and will not cease its construction until its completion at His second coming. Jesus will build His Church!
2. Jesus has a plan for His Church.
Jesus will build His Church. To build well you must have a blueprint–A PLAN. Jesus has given a threefold mission for His church.
1. Worship God and glorify His Son Jesus.
2. Reproduce; reach out to those who do not know Christ. Grow!
3. Disciple and train believers; maturity. The church learns to function as a unit - a body.
3. The Church belongs to Jesus Christ.
Jesus said, “I will build MY CHURCH.” No church, not Praise A/G nor any other church, belongs to the pastor, the deacons or anyone else in the congregation. The church belongs to Jesus.
✎ Be careful the next time you want to control things at the church or achieve some position of status. Remember the story of Ananias and Sapphira (see Acts 5)? They died in the church because they wanted to gain the recognition of others as generous–you might even say spiritual.
None of us have died for the Church; only Jesus shed his blood to establish the Church. Jesus is the owner of His Church.
4. Jesus will protect the Church.
Notice how Jesus concluded what He said about His Church: “I will build my church, AND THE GATES OF HADES WILL NOT OVERCOME IT.” None of us need to fear doing the work of God. Satan may bring the attack, but Christ empowers us to stand in victory! Regardless of where the attack may come from, the Church of Jesus Christ will not suffer harm from what people can do to it. Jesus will protect His Church!
Jesus will build His church of which Praise A/G is a part; His blueprint or plan for the church is great. What is a great church? It is not measured by the standards of success in the eyes of the world, although some of those things like increased attendance or finances or other such things may happen as a result of being a great church.
In God’s eyes a great church is one in which you and I become more and more like Jesus thus making Him known. Great churches impact their families, friends, communities and their world with the reality of the risen Christ.